E.T. (song)

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"E.T."
A woman wearing a leather jacket looks towards the viewer, holding her hands together
Single by Katy Perry featuring Kanye West
from the album Teenage Dream
Released February 16, 2011 (2011-02-16)
Format
Recorded 2010; Conway Recording Studios, (Hollywood, California)
Genre
Length 3:51
Label Capitol
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Katy Perry singles chronology
  • "E.T."
  • (2011)
Kanye West singles chronology
  • "E.T."
  • (2011)

"E.T." (an abbreviation for "extraterrestrial") is a song by American singer Katy Perry taken from her third studio album, Teenage Dream (2010). It was serviced to radio stations as the album's fourth single on February 16, 2011. "E.T." was written by Perry along with the song's producers Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Ammo, and features a guest rap by Kanye West. Musically, it is an electronic and hip hop ballad which draws heavily from dubstep and techno, along with smaller amounts of drum and bass. Lyrically, the song speaks of "falling in love with a foreigner".

"E.T." received generally positive reviews from music critics; many of whom complimented Perry's vocals and production throughout the song, while West's rapping style elicited a mixed response. The song became Perry's fifth non-consecutive number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and also topped charts in Canada, New Zealand, Poland, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, and Croatia. To date, "E.T." has sold over six million digital downloads worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles worldwide and Perry's second highest selling song in the U.S. According to Billboard, it was the fourth biggest song of 2011.

To promote the song, Perry and West performed on the tenth season of American Idol, the 54th Grammy Awards, and at Madison Square Garden for Z100's Jingle Ball. Floria Sigismondi directed the song's music video, which shows Perry as an evolving alien drifting in outer space before landing on an abandoned litter-covered Earth, while clips of large felines hunting game are interspersed. The video garnered positive reviews from music critics.

Background and release[edit]

A man in a jacket towards the viewer
The official single version of "E.T." features rap verses by Kanye West

Perry's decision to write "E.T." came after its beat was accidentally played during a recording session she had with Dr. Luke, Max Martin, and Ammo. It was originally intended for American hip hop group Three 6 Mafia.[1] However, after hearing it, Perry chose to work with the track. She told MTV News: "I heard it and I always knew I wanted to write this futuristic, alienistic song, and they pulled it up and I was like, 'Wait, I can wrap my head around this. I know this seems like a long shot, but I think I have the perfect material to put on top of this sound.' And I did, and it really worked out perfectly."[2]

On August 17, 2010, the solo version of the song was released as a promotional single from Teenage Dream.[3] In December 2010, Perry asked fans through Twitter to help her select the album's fourth single. On December 13, 2010, she tweeted, "Thanks for all your great suggestions for the next single today!" and "Your voice has been heard! We're on the same page."[4] In early January 2011, Perry announced via Facebook that "E.T." would be record's fourth single. The announcement was accompanied with the single's artwork, which features Perry with "cat eye make-up, bangs, and a sequined top".[5] Unlike the original, the single version features rap verses from rapper Kanye West.[6] It was released for digital download on February 16, 2011, worldwide. "E.T." was released as a CD single on March 17, 2011 in the United Kingdom.[7] On April 12, 2011, the song was sent for airplay on US urban radio.[8]

Composition[edit]

A 21-second sample containing Perry's stuttered vocals over the "stomp-stomp-clap" beat from Queen's "We Will Rock You".[9][10]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

Musically, "E.T." is an electronic and hip hop song, and draws heavily from dubstep and techno, along with smaller amounts of drum and bass.[11][12][13][14] BBC Music described the song as a "rave-influenced quasi ballad".[15] The song is written in the key of F minor and follows a slow tempo of 76 beats per minute in common time. Perry's vocal range spans from E♭4 to D♭5.[16] Ann Powers of Los Angeles Times noted a "hip-hop diva's stutter" in the song similar to that of Rihanna.[9] Matthew Perpetua of Rolling Stone felt the song was similar in sound to hard rock ballads by Evanescence.[17] The song's production has been described as "a mishmash and bleeps and blips with a driving drum track".[18] Darryl Sterdan of the QMI Agency noted the song uses the "stomp-stomp-clap" beat from Queen's "We Will Rock You" (1977),[10] while AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine noted similarities to productions helmed by Ryan Tedder.[19]

According to Perry, the song is about "falling in love with a foreigner".[20] James Montgomery of MTV News also noted that Perry sings about a "lover from different dimension".[12] For its single release, the song was reworked to feature two verses from Kanye West, in which he raps about "extraterrestriality".[21] "E.T." opens with the first rap verse by West containing the lines "I got a dirty mind / I got filthy ways / I'm trying to bathe my Ape in your milky way / They callin' me an alien / A big-headed astronaut".[21] Then, using metaphors about extraterrestrials, Perry sings, "You're not like the others / Futuristic lover / Different DNA".[22] The chorus has Perry addressing her lover: "Kiss me, kiss me / Infect me with your love and / Fill me with your poison", claiming to be "ready for abduction".[23] West contributes a second verse to the track, before Perry's final refrain, with heavily auto-tuned vocals: "I know a bar out in Mars / Where they driving spaceships instead of cars".[18][22] He finishes with a reference to the fictional animated character Shrek and lyrics about "alien sex": "I'mma disrobe you then I'mma probe you / See, I abducted you so I tell you what to do."[21] Ben Kaplan from National Post noted West's presence on the track was similar to the work on his fourth studio album, 808s & Heartbreak (2008).[18]

Critical reception[edit]

"E.T." has received positive reviews from contemporary music critics. Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly felt that Perry shows strength on the song, comparing its sound to a combination of American rock musicians Lita Ford and Trent Reznor.[24] Kerri Mason from Billboard felt that "E.T." together with some other tracks from the albums is heavier sonically and lyrically, with a boom-boom-pow electro punch and Perry discussing more toxic relationships."[25] Even though Robert Copsey from Digital Spy stated that West's contribution on the track was "needless", he felt that the track "is a quirky and assured slice of state-of-the-art pop".[26] Ben Kaplan from The National Post lauded the track as a "great duet", praising the vocals of both performers.[18] Speaking for West's contribution on the track Brad Wete from Entertainment Weekly noted that the song was improved from a male perspective.[27] Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic commented that Perry "replicates Ryan Tedder's glassy robotic alienation on 'E.T.', but tellingly avoids ripping off Lady Gaga".[19]

Matthew Cole of Slant Magazine disliked the single's "inscrutability" and said that song's backing track was reminiscent of t.A.T.u.'s "All the Things She Said".[28] Jason Richards from Now called the song "awkward" and Sputnikmusic's Rudy Clapper dismissed its attempt at a more mature sound, calling it "cheesy".[29][30] PopMatters' staff writer Steve Leftridge called the song "neither strong nor edgy nor clever nor sonically interesting enough to lend any genuine credibility to Perry as a serious artist with anything to actually say."[31] Amos Barshad of New York magazine felt West's alien metaphors went into jarring, misogynistic directions.[22] Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club gave the song a C-, saying that while its lyrical content was "borderline-embarrassing", it did earn "a couple bonus points for showing a relatively darker side" of Perry, while A.V. Club editor Steven Hyden was more critical of the both Perry's and West's lyrics, saying that "borderline-embarrassing" was too generous and that "the whole concept of the song is so beyond either side of sanity" that it was impossible to grade.[32]

Commercial performance[edit]

One week before the official release of Teenage Dream, the solo version of "E.T." was released as a promotional single and debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 42, selling 64,000 digital copies.[3] Following its single release featuring West, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 on March 5, 2011 at number 28 with 110,000 copies being sold.[33] In its fifth week, for the issue dated April 9, 2011, "E.T." topped the chart, giving Perry her fifth and West his fourth number-one single on the Hot 100.[34] It ended the six-week run of Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" and made Teenage Dream the ninth album in history to yield four number-one singles.[35] "E.T." spent five non-consecutive weeks at number-one on the Hot 100 chart and was certified quintuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of more than five million digital copies.[36] It topped the Billboard Hot Digital Songs chart for seven weeks, the longest since Eminem and Rihanna's "Love the Way You Lie" in 2010.[37] "E.T." is one of the best-selling singles worldwide, and is the second-highest-selling single of Perry's career. According to Billboard, it was the fourth-biggest hit of 2011.[13]

It debuted the same week on the Canadian Hot 100 at number 13.[38] In Australia, the song debuted at number 12 and peaked at number five for two weeks in February 2011.[39] Since then "E.T." has been certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association.[40] One week after debuting at number 17, "E.T." topped the New Zealand Singles Chart on January 31, 2011, becoming her sixth number-one in the country, and has been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand for sales of 15,000.[41] As of July 20, 2011, it also became Perry's third single to be on New Zealand's Best Singles of All Time, just behind "Firework" and "California Gurls".[42] On February 26, 2011, the solo version of the song entered the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart at number 36, and later topped it, becoming her sixth number-one on the chart.[43][44]

On the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs), "E.T." set a record for most weekly plays in the 18-year history of the chart: for the tracking week of April 25 – May 1, 2011, Nielsen Broadcast Data Systems registered 12,330 plays over its 131 stations—an average of 94 plays per station. This figure rewrote Perry's previous record held with "California Gurls" in July 2010 (12,159).[45] That record was later broken yet again by Perry, when her single "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" registered 12,468 plays for the week dated August 13, 2011.[46] Meanwhile, on the Rhythmic Airplay Chart, she achieved her first number-one hit, a rare feat for female pop artists considering she was the third to ever do so.[47]

In other Billboard charts, "E.T." reached number two on the Adult Pop Songs chart, and the top 20 on the Adult Contemporary and Latin Pop Songs charts.[48][49] Its highest sales week according to Nielsen SoundScan came in its fourth week at the summit of the Billboard Hot 100, where it sold 344,000 copies following its American Idol performance.[50] The song sold over 300,000 digital copies in a week four times, becoming one of four songs in history to achieve this.[37] "E.T." was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on April 28, 2011.[51] "E.T." was the highest selling track for the first half of 2011. The song is Perry's fourth and West's first song to reach the 5 million range which, for Perry is more than any other female artist in digital history.[52][53] As of May 2014, the song has sold 5,736,000 copies in the US.[54][55]

The song re-entered the Canadian Hot 100 at number 18 following its single release and topped the chart in its 12th week, on May 7, 2011.[56][57] "E.T." has charted in Ireland at number five, has become a top ten hit in Austria, Germany, and Italy, and became a top 20 hit in Belgium (Wallonia), Denmark, France, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland, and a top 40 hit in Belgium (Flanders).[39][58][59][60] On the UK Singles Chart, the single peaked at number three in its eighth week, becoming her eighth top ten hit there.[61] Elsewhere in Europe, the song charted in its solo version at number 18 on the Slovak airplay chart, 20 on the Czech airplay chart, 27 on the Dutch Top 40, and 28 on the Greek airplay chart.[62][63][64][65] As of July 2012, the song has sold over 6.4 million digital copies worldwide.[66]

Music video[edit]

Background and production[edit]

MTV debuted the video on March 31, 2011.[67] A backstage picture of West wearing street clothes along with Perry in a pastel-colored makeup and a giant braided headpiece was shown on MTV.[6] On March 21, a teaser trailer was released; it was 12 seconds long and showed clips of an unidentified flying object.[68] Its music video was directed by Floria Sigismondi.[6][69] Prior to release, Perry aspired to make it "larger than life."[6][68]

Synopsis[edit]

A male and female alien preparing to kiss one another
Perry kisses Shaun Ross to transform him from a robotic alien being.

The video begins with the song "Where in the World Can My Lover Be?" by Midge Williams & Her Jazz Jesters playing in the background. As the music begins, West is shown in a Sputnik like spacecraft revealing pictures before zooming out of the craft.[70] In the video, Perry, as an alien, drifts through outer space while slowly evolving into a humanoid appearance before landing on an abandoned Earth. Clips are interspersed of large felines hunting game.[71] She comes across a broken robot, resembling a spaceman; upon her kiss it turns into a naked male, played by Shaun Ross.[72] It is eventually revealed that Perry's legs resemble those of a gazelle.[73] Meanwhile, West is featured in the video floating in a traveling spacecraft.[74][75] The video also alludes to a presumable future, as Perry finds a box containing a skeleton of a pigeon (a species said to have gone extinct in 2030) and a pair of Vogue sunglasses, which she later wears. Throughout the video, Perry wears heavy cosmetics,[76] including blue and pink make-up, cat-like and reptile-like eyes, and braids resembling those of Medusa.[77][78]

Reception[edit]

The video received positive reviews from critics. Willa Paskin of New York magazine praised Perry's looks in the video as "detailed, outlandish, [and] semi-gorgeous rainbow-kabuki".[73] Kara Warner from MTV News also praised her appearance in the video, calling her an "angelic alien princess". She also felt the video was Perry's "most complex, stylized and out-there video production yet."[71] Joseph Brannigan Lynch of Entertainment Weekly felt that West's rap verses helped the song top the Billboard Hot 100, and called the video an "awesomely bizzare sci-fi video, which impressively resists any obvious Spielberg references".[79] Matthew Perpetua from Rolling Stone described the video as "a sequel to Avatar or a Katy Perry video game", and felt the song and video were "a bold move away from Perry's usual silliness and sexuality".[17] Los Angeles Times described the video as a "sweeping visual manifestation".[80] In a more negative review, Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine complained that Perry looked like an "animated video-game character" while saying West was a "non-presence". Cinquemani later went on to say: "It's a step up from bras that shoot whipped cream and fireworks, but this is ultimately Sigimondi's vision, and it's far from her finest five minutes."[81] At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, the video for "E.T." won awards for Best Collaboration and Best Special Effects.[82]

Live performances and cover versions[edit]

A woman in a latex dress holding a microphone in front of her face
Perry performing "E.T." in Budapest, Hungary in October 2010.

The song was included on the set list of the California Dreams Tour, Perry's second concert tour.[83] Perry has also performed "E.T." at several venues, including a performance at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on December 10, 2010 for Z100's Jingle Ball.[84] The song was released as a free track on Katy Perry Revenge 2, a game for the iOS application Tap Tap.[85] A lyrics video for the single was released on March 16, 2011.[86] After playing "We Will Rock You", West performed "E.T." without Perry at the 2011 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.[87] Perry performed the single with West for the first time on the tenth season of American Idol on April 21, 2011. Carried by background dancers, she wore a flickering outfit and was joined by West, who was previously unannounced.[88]

An acoustic version of "E.T." was performed by VersaEmerge in May 2011 at the The Fueled By Ramen Studios.[89] On June 27, 2011, the video of a stripped-down cover of the song by the American pop punk/alternative rock band Yellowcard was featured in Billboard's Mashup Mondays series.[90]

Track listings and formats[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from Teenage Dream album liner notes.[23]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Release history[edit]

List of release dates by region, including format details, and record label
Region Date Format Label Version
United States[3] August 17, 2010 Promotional single – digital download Capitol Records Album Version
Worldwide[139][140][141] February 16, 2011 Digital download Remix Version
United States[142] March 1, 2011 Mainstream and rhythmic radio
Worldwide[143][144][145] March 4, 2011 Remix EP – digital download
United States[92] March 8, 2011
United Kingdom[146] March 14, 2011
United Kingdom[147] March 17, 2011 CD single
Germany March 18, 2011 CD single[148]
Remix EP – digital download[94]
Switzerland Remix EP[149]
United States April 12, 2011 Urban,[8] Urban AC,[150] AC,[151] and Hot AC radio[152]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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